Lifetime’s Aaliyah biopic has received protests from the late R&B singer’s family and fans since the production was announced several weeks ago.
According to TheWrap, there have been reported attacks on Zendaya, the Disney star who was recently cast to play Aaliyah. Not to mention several online petitions were created aimed at closing down the production for the TV movie. But, at the end of the day there is nothing fans can do to stop the movie from happening.
Now, Aaliyah‘s family has decided to step in and perhaps shut down the production for good.
“Because we control the masters [to Aaliyah‘s recordings], the rights and some images of the musical elements that we put together like the videos, and photo shoots and things that we did, what we can just withhold those elements from the production, which we would do,” Aaliyah’s cousin and president of Blackground Records — the record label that released all of her songs — Jomo Hankerson, told TheWrap.
This could certainly stop the Lifetime movie from ever progressing forward, but at the same time Zendaya, who is a trained singer can still cover several of Aaliyah‘s songs. Blackground Records may own Aaliyah‘s recordings, but they do not own they publishing rights for the songs. Timbaland, Missy Elliott and Static Major own a large majority of those legal rights and they would have the ability to license the lyrics to Lifetime.
Hankerson commented that she has no problem with Zendaya. “I think she’s a lovely young girl,” he said. “I have a problem with the whole production, so casting would be a part of it. But I never wanted to single her out, because I think that she’s a good, young actress and that she’s just trying to take an opportunity that was presented to her.”
Ultimately, it seems as though the family is upset that their singer’s life is portrayed on the Lifetime Network and not on the big screen. Moreover, Lifetime never reached out to the family for help in the production process.
“It’s the wrong forum for the project, for the first project of her life,” he said. “I believe that she’s a cultural icon for us, that she was legendary in her short career. I think it was obvious, the career track that she was headed on, and I think that you still see her influence in today’s music.”
Aaliyah was an American recording artist, dancer, actress, and model. She was born in Brooklyn, New York, and raised in Detroit, Michigan. At the age of 10, she appeared on the television show Star Search and performed in concert alongside Gladys Knight. At age 12, Aaliyah signed with Jive Records and her uncle Barry Hankerson’s Blackground Records. Hankerson introduced her to R. Kelly, who became her mentor, as well as lead songwriter and producer of her debut album, Age Ain’t Nothing but a Number. The album was certified double platinum . After facing allegations of an illegal marriage with R. Kelly, Aaliyah ended her contract with Jive and signed with Atlantic Records.
Aaliyah worked with record producers Timbaland and Missy Elliott for her second album, One in a Million; it sold 3.7 million copies in the United States and over eight million copies worldwide.
In 2000, Aaliyah appeared in her first major film, Romeo Must Die. She contributed to the film’s soundtrack, which spawned the single “Try Again“. The song topped the Billboard Hot 100 solely on airplay, making Aaliyah the first artist in Billboard history to achieve this feat. “Try Again” earned Aaliyah a Grammy Award nomination for Best Female R&B Vocalist. After completing Romeo Must Die, Aaliyah filmed her part in Queen of the Damned. She released her third and final album, Aaliyah, in July 2001.
On August 25, 2001, Aaliyah and eight others were killed in a plane crash in The Bahamas after filming the music video for the single “Rock the Boat“.